Faction Strength: 4
You may skip one River space when founding a Town. (You decide if and when you want to use this ability. When founding a Town in this fashion, put the Town tile on the skipped River space. Of course, you may build Bridges as usual.)
After building the Stronghold, immediately and only once move forward 1 space on the Shipping track. Neither pay 1 Priest, nor 4 Coins for this movement. (Take the rewards associated with the new level as indicated on your Faction board.)
Mermaids are a fairly “basic” race, except that they start with Shipping Level 1. The reason they are so strong is that they can quickly reach distant, favourable hexes, and they can connect nearly all their structures using Shipping by the end of the game.
Upgrade shipping early. Use the two-point shipping to jump to nearby Ocean hexes to build dwellings without having to terraform. The +3 Power +Shipping bonus tile can be taken to abuse this even more heavily.
Having no other racial bonuses, you will eventually need to increase your Spade efficiency at least once, which will also help to connect your dwellings and form cities.
Because it’s easy to get an early dwelling lead, it’s also easy to run out of Coins. Consider burning power for Coins (Power action square), or taking Coin-related bonus tiles.
Optimal Start Locations
D-2 & A-4
Situational Start Locations
E-4 (but not against Black) & H-7
Terrible Start Locations (inland):
G-12, E-13, I-11